As languages, painting and installation have generally been regarded as, if not contradictory, at least divergent, in terms of both their presuppositions and their media. In the 1990s the conditions (plastic, formal and conceptual) existed for the appearance of installations that had a strong pictorial dimension, though they maintained the environmental morphology of installation. In the 1980s, in contrast, painting and installation appeared largely to be incompatible languages. In the early 1980s Soledad Sevilla’s work was already putting forward a twofold view of painting and installation as intimately related languages that could influence one another and offer a differentiated but complementary approach to common issues and arguments. Fons et Origo, executed at the Sala Montcada of the Fundació ”la Caixa” in Barcelona in 1987, is the culmination of a pictorial series devoted to the Alhambra and produced over the course of 1986. An artificial pond occupies the floor of the exhibition room, blocking the viewer’s way. In the background a web of cotton threads stretched from the ceiling to the surface of the water form a lintel that is reflected in the pond. The lighting is concentrated on the lintel sketched by the web of threads, highlighting their whiteness. A drop of water falls into the pond at regular intervals, distorting the reflection. Simultaneously a recording made by Lugán superimposes the sound of a falling drop on the steady murmur of the water gushing from the fountains of the Alhambra. Sevilla drew her inspiration for the work from the atmosphere of the Sala de los Abencerrajes, which has a fountain in the middle that reflects the arches of the Patio de los Leones, onto which it opens. With an extreme economy of means—though the execution is very laborious—the installation creates an atmosphere of great poetic complexity by spatially synthesising the intense evocation of emotions the artist has pursued in the canvases of the ‘La Alhambra’ series. This work, which marks a turning point and a moment of creative maturity in Sevilla’s artistic career, opens up a line of experimentation with water and its poetic qualities that came to fruition in some of her later installations, such as En soledad la que recita la poesía es ella (1991), En el retiro la que recita la poesía es ella. Fuego (1994–95), and La habitación de la lluvia (1994–95). From a formal point of view, the work is the first in which she uses the webs of cotton thread that would later become a regular feature of her installations and have constituted the structure of her pictorial work until now. The threads form a fine net that marks out and constructs the space, creating subtle atmospheres.
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